What age to start free ranging?


In the Brooder
9 Years
Oct 20, 2010
I have 2 hens that are a year old and 6 chicks that are between 7-10 weeks. Is it okay to start letting the younger ones free range? The 2 older hens have been free ranging since they were around 8-10 weeks old.
I like my chicks outside. I think it is healthier for them. When they are just a few days old, I have often put them right in my garden, they are not big enough to cause damage, often get to eat bugs, and can hide under the foilage durning the day. I put a cardboard box in there, with the chicks inside the box, and usually at dark, they will walk back into the box.

I do not get chicks when it is still cold out if I am brooding them myself. I will only raise early chicks under a mama hen. And I let her take them out almost immediately.

Mrs K
Mine have been free ranging since they were about 8 weeks old.

I do have deer netting cut in half around about an acre so they can stray too far.
Not predator proof . . . but it keeps them from roaming too far.

I didn't let my hens free range until they were well into their laying careers

there were two reasons for this

(1) I had bought them as chicks late last fall, so I was leery of letting half-grown chicks out into Wisconsin winters

(2) I wanted to get them laying in our nesting boxes before I let them out (I didn't need hens laying eggs all over my yard and the pasture)

hope this helps
mine are all out to free range at 8 weeks. i just keep chick starter out in feeder outside for them. bantams i wait til 10 weeks. once they are free ranging they live in the coop with the rest of flock.

when you have older hens with younger hens. the younger hens will copy and follow the older hens when its time to lay. i never have eggs in yard or on floor. my rooster escorts all the hens back one by one when they lay during the day. he stands guard by the door outside why they lay. when they are done they return to flock.
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Mine are 8 weeks old and have been free ranging for almost two weeks now. The first week I stayed out with them to make sure they were okay, and they stayed close to the house. Now I feel comfortable leaving them alone, and they tend to spend most of their times in our small patch of woods, so they are fairly protected. I lost one chick a couple days ago, I think to a hawk, but that is a risk I take having them free range.
I would love to let my 5 hens (5months old) free range. We live on 2.5 acres with no fencing, as nice is it would be for them I'm afraid of predators. It seems sad to me to make them stay inside. They have a 6 x 10 run with a raised 6 x 4 coop. I'm sure they would enjoy the grass under their feet and all the bugs they can eat. I was thinking of building a seperate run, sort of like a play pen for chickens. Am I just being overly worried about it. My alpha hen always wants out when I come in. Thanks
I've been putting my chicks (with their mother) in a chicken tractor since they were 3 days old. I move this little enclosure to different parts of the lawn so they can find bugs, eat grass, etc. I lay a panel over the end to provide some shelter. Put their waterer and chick feeder in the tractor and they can stay out there safely for several hours a day. There are photos of the tractor here: http://jensenschickens.blogspot.com/2011/05/first-outing.html
I would say yours are old enough. You waited longer than I did with my second batch! Once the weather was warm enough I wasn't worried they would be too cold I put them out.

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